In this episode, Jim & Tyson interview Conor Malloy, partner at Chi City Legal, LLC, a 2 men law firm in Chicago. Conor uses Zapier in his firm and he is kind of a magician with it. Listen as they go all over this automation software, its functions, and the way it can help you run your law firm.
- About Conor
- Conor’s firm set up
- 2 men firm; no support staff
- Conor has a background in tech and implementing software and coding
- Conor’s market is self represented landlords
- A lot of clients required good workflows and automating processes, so that’s when Zapier kicked in
- Technology for interacting with clients
- Practice management system: Trello
- Communication and milestones
- Integration with Zapier
- Triggers and integrations
- Useful Zaps
- Integration with lots of apps
- Series of triggers followed by actions
- 137 zaps > 3000 to 5000 actions per week without any human interaction
- Favourite Zaps
- Mindset of automation
- Know your processes
- Map out workflow
- Probable and possible workflows
- About Conor
- Understanding your processes and what your core technologies are in order to move things along, that’s huge
- Skill Set required
- Low code and no code
- If you are doing filters you can use Zapier
- Automation malfunction
- Start collecting data
- Baby steps
- Where to start
- Getting comfortable
- Start with boring things that you do over and over
- Invest time in it
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Jim’s hack: A video marketing tip. When you do your marketing, whether it is a video or an email, always talk as if you are talking to 1 person. People want 1 on 1 interaction. If you can come up with an avatar that’s even better.
Conor’s tip: Now thy processes. That’s when you can begin to delve in, and you might find some stuff where you are banging your head against the wall when you might not ever did it.
Tyson’s tip: An iPhone tip. Whenever you are typing on your iPhone and you misspelled a word or you have to type in another letter in there, there’s a function where if you hold down the spacebar and drag it from side to side it moves your cursor and you can easily navigate through the letters.
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Transcripts: Technology To Run Your Law Firm ft. Conor Malloy
Understanding your processes, understanding what your core technologies are, in order to move things along. That’s huge. And then if you hate doing a certain task every day, to start thinking about automated, I hate doing the accounting. So that was a big one for us to be able to move these things through. Because we have so many clients and we handle all these transactions. That’s huge to do, especially from a small firm side.
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum layer podcast via podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm.
Welcome to the show. Welcome back to the maximum lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim hacking.
And I’m tasting new tricks. They do but Tyson I’m
doing well. Man had a good break over the weekend for Thanksgiving. And I was interested to see that we did not make the top 100 podcasts on the ABA journals survey this year. And I think it’s really interesting that we did not I think last year, our good friend Larry Weinstein sort of led a little campaign to have everyone vote for us. And I think that goes to show you that I don’t know that we’ve gotten any dumber over the last year, or that our outreach has gone down at all. I just think it’s sort of shows that that thing is sort of a game to be played.
That is really interesting. Listen, this is not by any means tooting our horn. There’s no way we’re not in the top 100. Okay, 100 podcasts is a lot of podcasts. And there’s no chance in hell, that we’re not at the top of them. And so you’re absolutely right. So whoever’s listening to the thing, I guess they’re not listening to my real point. But that’s a little frustrating. That’s the first time hearing that so why she sort of thought we were a shoo in. But that’s fine, whatever. We’ve got an amazing following. And lots of lots of great guests, and great Facebook groups on I guess I’m not too bitter, but I’m a little bitter about it. So my Thanksgiving was great. I was in Disneyworld last week. So that was that was pretty awesome. I had a lot of fun doing that. So things been great. So he had to sort of rain on my parade with this top 100 BS, but
I’m glad about it. I don’t care about what the ABA says. I think it just shows those guys just sit around giving each other awards. And so I think that our podcasts and our movement is so much more practical. And you know, I get what they’re trying to do over there. But I just think they’re pretty clueless when it comes to how small firms run things.
That’s a good point. I mean, ABA is more of I think, a big term type of thing. It’s not really a cyst, so small burns kind of thing. And I guess I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am wrong about that. So our guest today is Connor Malloy. And the reason why we’re having Connor on is someone had put something on the Facebook group about Zapier and how people were using their stats. And that’s something I’m interested in and there were some buzz about that question. And people have some questions about basically what is Zapier and how to use it. And Connor apparently is a magician when it comes to Zapier. So, Connor, before we jump into that conversation, though, tell us a little bit about you, yourself, your firm and what you do.
Sure, so my name is Connor Malloy, I’m a partner at a two man law firm here in Chicago called Shai city legal. So my partner John is the only other guy that mans the office with me. And you know, there’s some pros and cons to that, where, you know, it’s it’s a good relationship that we have, but we don’t have any other support staff. So once upon a time, when we talked about putting this firm together, we hadn’t fixed sort of a practice area. And we leaned on landlord tenant law and mostly dealing with landlord side matters and eviction court. One of the things that I have sort of a background in is tech and implementing certain software with some light coding intermix. And the problem that we were looking to solve is a lot of the market was eaten up by firms representing large property management groups. And what you would have is a bunch of self represented landlords trotting into court every day, and filing their own evictions prosecuting their own cases, because they thought they weren’t. They were priced out of traditional legal services. And the traditional legal services, probably didn’t really want them as clients. Because the point of contact, the amount of legal issues probably didn’t really have a good marker for them. So what we had to do is be able to tailor our services to deal with a lot of clients. It is a bulk practice, and be able to handle the workflows associated with it. So that’s how we started shy city legal, and really started to explore different options for automating certain processes and creating Britain flows. And that’s where Zapier kicked in.
Connor, I was very excited when I heard you talking, I now have someone to refer my mother in law to in Chicago, she has a two family in Rogers Park. And she’s always my wife and I are licensed in Illinois, she’s always trying to get us to handle her evictions from here in St. Louis, which, of course, makes no sense. Talk to us about how you use technology, in interacting with clients in such a bulk practice. Sure, so
in a myriad of ways, whether they’re either not our clients yet, and they’re still prospective clients, or they are our clients, a lot of times, they’re interfacing with some sort of technology that we’ve put into place. So for example, when we get back from court, and we like to update our clients is because it’s a big thing to have transparency, especially for people, you know, their buildings and their properties or their babies. And so when they’re intimately involved in their, in their previous legal actions, and they’re now trying to open up the trust to an attorney, you want to be able to keep them in the loop. So one of the things that we do is we go to our Trello board, if nobody’s used Trello. Before, it’s essentially digital sticky notes. And you just kind of pass them around through this platform. And it’s free. We use that as our practice management system. And we interface it with it to give us ourselves certain updates, you know, to be able to communicate between each other, and to be able to hit certain milestones, like your case has been filed, or an attorney filed an appearance in the case where we got your eviction order. And anytime we sort of check off these little boxes and their little boxes on Trello. Those will figure an action in Zapier that’s listening for that certain trigger, and that will then send out either an email, if Zapier can interface with Gmail sent out sort of a scripted email that’s tailored to that action, or for some of our clients and some are older and don’t embrace technology as much. It can either send out a Twilio script, which will actually call them and give them give them an update. Or for some people that just like text, it’ll push through a text. So that’s one of the big ways that we deal with it. Because we could have anywhere between 15 and 25 cases, if we were on the phone, doing the same script for each person throughout the day, even for five to 15 minutes, we’d block out her day, there wouldn’t be much less to do. So kind of
I can’t remember what number of zaps you said you have in your childhood. There’s quite a bit, a lot more than I have for sure. But I want to step back for a second. What is it that that you think the listeners would find most useful?
So first, when it comes to Zapier, it’s essentially you’re creating like sort of a more functional Rube Goldberg machine, right? If anybody watched Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and how he made breakfast in the morning, you know, it’s all these different devices connecting with each other in order to produce a product. So what Zapier does, is it interconnects apps. And you know, just put this out there, I’m not paid by Zapier or anything else, I’m just sort of a profit. When it comes to Zapier. Let’s say you have you introduce an app to it like Gmail. All right. What do you want Gmail to do? What do you want it to listen for? Why want it to listen for certain tags and an email or certain text in an email or certain email from certain people? And once you do that, well, what do you want to do with that email? Do you want to automatically download it and save it in your Google Drive? Do you want to, you know, take that new person that might not recognize and add it to your MailChimp list. It can do all sorts of actions when it comes to that. So it’s a series of triggers, and a series of actions that follow that initial trigger. And right now we’re using last time I checked, and I have an ad, well, actually, it did add a couple, it’s now 137, zaps. And the usually creates about three to 5000 actions per week. So these are actions that are taking place that don’t have any human intervention, and not relying on somebody at the office to be able to take data from point A to point B manually, which can be fraught with errors and the like. So that’s huge for us to be able to do it. One of my favorite zaps that I have right now is relatively simple. When we do an update to a client, I have some pre scripted text there. And at the end it says, if you do want to talk with us, we get their automated email. If you do want to talk with us about your matter, in order to get in the queue, just respond to this email with I want my lawyer to call me and so what Zapier does is it listens for that email. And then what it’s going to do is that certain texts will trigger an action, which will then send a new email, it’s going to see see my partner because he handles the daily operations and usually client interfaces And it’ll also see see an artificial intelligence that we use from x.ai. Her name is Amy, she’s our assistant of sorts. And Amy will then set up a call between the client and my partner, and then poof, on his schedule will appear some sort of a time that fits within what he’s the parameters he’s given to me. And again, nobody had to set up that call, we’re not going back and forth to the client or cold, calling them not getting a hold of them, and then disrupting our workflow throughout the day. So it’s a very simple one. But I can’t tell you how much time it probably saves throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the year when you start adding this stuff
up. It’s amazing. Tyson loves to tease me about software that I used to use it I don’t use anymore. I think he used AMI for a while. But kind of my question for you is, as you walk through your day, or as you interact with your partner, and you come across new things that you might zap or that you might automate. What’s your mindset? Like? What are you looking for? How do you spot issues that you think you can automate? And then how do you ramp up automation? Once you’ve decided that’s something you want to do? So yeah,
all this started with one zap, right? We were just moving from from one thing to the other, or what would make sense and really, a lot of it dealt with document automation, we would input client data into our system, and you know, through a gravity form, like a jot form Google sheet type of thing. And that would push that data to somewhere else that we could then use as a reservoir for populating documents. That was the big thing. So it’s really getting down knowing your processes, you know, eviction law is is ripe for this, because it’s not terribly complex, you can easily map out sort of a workflow. And then as you experience that workflow to be able to identify various choke points that you might have, and say, Okay, well, how do we grease the skids between point A’s, B’s and C’s? Maybe we don’t need it that B anymore. Maybe it goes straight to F, I guess. So. That was the big thing for us. Because my partner, he knew all about eviction law, I knew nothing about it before we got together. And he walked me through things. And we just process maps, you know, just taking everything well, what happens if this doesn’t happen? What happens? This does but happens in such in such a way, and just working through probable workflows and somewhat possible workflows? And then to say, alright, well, what’s our core of technology that we use? Trello is our is our backbone, and Trello talks to Google Sheets? How do we make those data flow between those in a very simple way. So understanding your processes, understanding what your core technologies are, in order to move things along, that’s huge. And then if you hate doing a certain task every day, to start thinking about automated, I hate doing the accounting. So that was a big one for us is to be able to move these things through, because we have so many clients, and we handle all these transactions. And just being able to say, All right, let’s move through this $78.50 cent transaction through without a whole lot of to do. That’s huge, especially from a small firm side.
All right, I think some people might be listening to this, and they may have already just turned it off, because they think, Oh, my gosh, it’s too technical, I don’t have the skills. To do this, can you talk a little bit about the skill set required to set up something like what you’d have set up, just to sort of ease the discomfort some people might be having right now,
I do have a self taught background, right. And so that’s showing my hand on this one. However, you know, as we go throughout the day, as attorneys, we have billables that we need to hit, you have to be able to keep the lights on and all that jazz. So the technology that I’m looking at, and the things that I’m looking to embrace are either low code or no code options. So the you know, to be able to approach it, and at least take a look at something where if you’re already dealing with filters, let’s say in Gmail or in Outlook, you know, things that you are familiar with, well, if you’re doing filters, you’re essentially creating workflows, you’re creating technological flows of your data. So if that’s something that you’re comfortable with or even macros in Word, it these are these are the kinds of things where you can easily bridge that gap into something like Zapier or other you know, Microsoft Flow is out there If This Then That is another option, but it’s all what you see what you get the the interface couldn’t be any more simpler. And just starting with a little little nugget of of automation, and then saying that’s pretty cool. I’ll let that ride for a few days. You know, see if I need to revisit it, or even maybe build on it and connect something to another thing and eventually, a lot of nice apps because it was early limitations of Zapier were just one thing triggering another, then that one thing triggered another and would eventually go about 15 steps deep as the, as the data proliferated across devices and other software that we use. So, you know, every book is read with the first page and or the first word, every sort of track is with the first step in Zapier has with the first with first zap. And just to kind of explain what the software is, and it’s free to begin with.
Connor, I think one of the things that some of our listeners might be skittish about is this idea that automation might run wild and all these inappropriate or incorrect messages might be sent to people or the triggers might malfunction. What can you say to put our listeners at ease on that.
And so that’s one of the things sort of the approach that I take is with, I’m not well versed in sort of agile development, it’s something that’s sort of natural with sort of baby steps of putting something into play, and then sort of making small modifications along the way, there are tools built into it, that, you know, if you’re going to say, hey, I want you to start listening for email coming in, or I want you to start listening for updates made to certain rows in a spell in a spreadsheet, you can just sort of, you don’t have to turn it on right away, you can start collecting data and seeing what that data looks like in a very accessible fashion, and then start interfacing that. And Zapier does a great job of debugging things where you can say, Alright, I want to try this test piece of data. Alright, so here’s an email from Joe Smith, I want to be able to take Joe and Smith and parse those out into the first name and last name, and then put that into my Christmas card list or something. So you can just tick that off, see what that looks like. And then maybe you get another email from Sally Johnson. Okay, I’ll try that one. And then as you start to see that, you know, things are getting parsed out correctly, and the data’s coming in, right? Then you can say, well, I’m going to turn this app on, it’s just going to go full tilt. And it’s going to start collecting all those email and populating your spreadsheet with that kind of stuff. So you can dip your little toes in the water. And you know, before he decided to take the big
punch, the counter on the vapors website, they’ve got this cool little tool where, you know, and I’m sure I guarantee, you know, this stuff, saying the school listeners, when you can plug in all the different things that you use, like Gmail and gout and calendar and Facebook, you can even plug in all these different things. And that sort of gives you these awesome tool like connections where the shows you how they’re connected and what you can do with them. But it’s a really cool tool, but in your opinion may not be the best place for people to start. So where do you think people should start when it comes to getting started with Zapier?
I think it’s getting comfortable. First of all, if you are using a practice management system in there are a few that Zapier embraces or that embrace Zapier, I guess as it would go, Clio is out there that that’s a big one. Practice Panther also plays nicely with Zapier. So sort of understanding what types of things will trigger Zapier from your practice management software? So if I add a new matter? What will that do? What sort of data is is getting passed through when I when I do that? And so where do I want that data to be to be sent. One of the big ones that I did at the beginning, in a prior practice, was when I would update Clio, I would automatically take those numbers and names and update my Android phone list. And so now, you know, when they would call me, it was just as easy to have it where I would see him right there within within a few minutes of getting that data entered. That was a beautiful thing to have just like little ins and outs where you catch yourself doing the same boring stuff over and over again. And then seeing what how that data can be supplied from whatever you’re interfacing with throughout the day. But those are great templates that they have to see, you know how things play nicely with each other and how the data is exchanged across various platforms. Are there things
that you stopped automating Connor?
Yeah, that’s, that’s one of the tricky things is, if you do a deep dive, you know, what I described at the beginning, was we had a problem that was in need of a solution. Sometimes you have sort of the solution of automation and automation will reign supreme. And you’re now looking for the problem. Those are the tricky ones, where they don’t require probably some automation and there’s silly, overreaching architecture to put it into place. But there are automations that I put into place that get prompt by other more efficient automations. So for example, the one I posted on the Facebook page was an old workflow that we were using, and it was parsing out data certain way. And then I figured out just a simple way of reformatting the date and time on something rather than having Zapier do it for me. So it’s one of those things where you do have to invest time, that’s absolutely true. And people should have no illusions about that, that, like anything else in practice development, whether you’re out doing a continuing legal education or shaking hands at a at a networking event, this is part of your of your practice development. And it there are dividends that are received from it. But just baby steps into it. And you may come across some things that just can’t be automated, that’s for certain. But if you’re using certain technology platforms throughout your day, and if even if that’s an Excel spreadsheet, in Gmail, there’s a way for those things to play nicely. And grease the skids across those platforms to be able to improve your processes.
Alright, I can probably talk to you about Zapier all day, just to pick your brain on things that I’m not going to know, I want to make sure we get you out of here on time before we do or remind everyone to go to the Facebook group, because topics like this are going on every single day to make sure your requests enjoy there. And also, if you don’t mind giving us a five star review on iTunes and where to get your podcasts that would be really appreciative of that. Jimmy, what’s your eigenlijk
so my hack of the week is something I’ve been thinking about in our marketing, one of our new attorneys in the office decided she wanted to shoot her first YouTube video, and she wanted to be on our channel, which was fun and exciting. And she made a video. And I remember when she started the video, she said, Hey, everybody, this is Ashley, and she talked as if she was talking to a whole group. And I remembered that it’s really important when we do our marketing, whether it’s an email newsletter, or a video, to always act as if we’re talking to one person. I think that when we try to broadcast our message, or it sounds like we’re shouting, that really people don’t care that there’s other people listening or reading that they really just want that inner that one on one interaction. So in all the marketing that we do, and all the talking that we do, always when you can speak to one person, and if you can come up with an avatar and who that person might look like or be that’s, that’s even better.
Jim, I think that is maybe one of the better tips you ever given. You know, the routine, what is your tip or hack of the week
for my hack of the week, it’s just to kind of go back into what I was discussing. It’s no lie processes. And then that’s where you can begin to delve in. And you might find some stuff where you’re banging your head against the wall wondering why you ever did it
that way. Jim Connors is better than yours is a good tip. So my tip of the week is actually I was standing in line at Disneyworld waiting for the Little Mermaid ride. And this woman in front of us just randomly we had not had one. We had exchanged one word with her. She turns around, she says, Can you believe the iPhone does this. And we’re like what? Like, just out of the blue. And I had never known this. So whenever you are typing on your iPhone, so this is for people that are non Android people to describe from people. So when you’re typing a text message or an email, and let’s say you misspell a word or you, you have to type in another letter somewhere else, and you have to get a hold on your finger and sort of drag it can sort of be complicated. Well, there is a function on your iPhone, where if you hold down the Spacebar and drag it from side to side, it moves your cursor bar, which is a huge benefit. So and I had no idea did that. And so she was so excited that she wanted to share with random people. So I’m sharing with you all, I’ve used it a ton since she showed it to me. So hopefully that will eat some of your old frustration when it comes to editing emails and text messages basically. So that is my tip of the week. Conor, thank you so much for coming on and sharing some of your knowledge. It’s been great.